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Final Score: UConn Holds on to Beat Tulsa, 20-14

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The Huskies pulled away in the third quarter and held off a comeback attempt for their third victory.

Ian Bethune

It came down to the final play, but the UConn Huskies played their most complete game of the season in a 20-14 win over Tulsa. Though UConn held a 20-0 lead late into the fourth quarter, the Huskies had to fend off one final play where Tulsa had a chance to win it from just nine yards away.

An uneventful first half ended with the Huskies ahead 3-0 thanks to a Michael Tarbutt field goal. Hope you had the under. Even though Arkeel Newsome went down with an injury and left the game, the Huskies stormed out of the second half gates and took control early in the third quarter.

It was 10-0 after Nate Hopkins punched in a touchdown from a yard out, capping off a 12-play, 79-yard drive highlighted by a 33-yard throw-and-catch from Bryant Shirreffs to Quayvon Skanes.

After a Tulsa three-and-out, UConn needed just one play to make it 17-0. On a flea-flicker, Shirreffs sent a pass to Hergy Malaya for an 80-yard touchdown. Shirreffs finished with 372 yards on 23-of-29 passing—an impressive 79 percent completion rate—and the TD. Mayala had four receptions for 131 yards and the score.

Tulsa closed in with two unanswered touchdowns in the 4th quarter but ran out of time as UConn held on for the win. Tulsa converted a fourth down and completed a 50-yard pass on their last drive, setting up one last chance from the UConn nine. But Golden Hurricane QB Luke Skipper rolled to his weak-hand side under pressure and his mini-hail mary hit the ground.

We probably didn’t want this to be as close as it got at the end, but there’s a lot to be encouraged about how UConn played today. The Huskies held a good Tulsa offense, ranked 34th in S&P+ efficiency and averaging 35 points per game, to 453 yards and just 14 points. The offense had a good performance as well, with Shirreffs looking really comfortable running a variety of complex plays and showing improved accuracy on his intermediate and longer throws. They couldn’t really get the running game going, but it got the job done.

Most importantly, the Huskies displayed a consistent overall competence which was noticeably absent during the first six games of the season. This performance offers confidence that we’ll see more wins this season and maybe even grab an upset against, perhaps, USF at home in November? It seems like they might have a chance to do those things, which is solid progress for Randy Edsall’s squad this year.

The Huskies advance to 3-4 as they get ready to host Missouri next week. The game will be played at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Rent and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.